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Old 04-28-2010, 11:21 AM   #1
Connecticut Yankee
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Woodstrip build

OK , I see Striperguy went to the "By the Fireside" section of the forum to describe his new striper that he is building. Anyone interested in the process should check his build out. I think I'll try to describe mine here in the paddling forum. Some of you may remember that I built a woodstrip Guideboat last year for the "90 Miler" , my son and I raced it and had a great time. Well, I don't know that I was smiling at the start of the Racquette Falls portage, but the rest was fun. That boat is 17' long and weighs 62 lbs without the oars. My son is off to college at Saint Michaels in Burlington Vermont next fall so this September I'll enter solo.
This time I'm building a canoe for the solo recreation class. This class is dominated by the Placid Boat Works Rapidfire. The class rules are 16' max and a 4" waterline of 22" and paddled with a double blade. My new boat will be 15'11" and about 23 1/3" at the waterline. I'm building tumblehome in so the gunwale width is ~23 1/2" , max width ~26 1/2" , debth ~12", 16 1/2" deep bow, 14" stern. 1 1/2" rocker bow, 1" stern. Weight I'm shooting for is 30 pounds, 35 is more realistic. The bow is fairly sharp entry with a fair amount of volume rising up to the gunwale , the stern has more volume. The idea for the stern is not to squat in the shallows as much, but now that I have it laid up it may get blown around in a following wind a bit more. The hull is western red cedar, then it will be sheathed in 4 oz. fiberglass with epoxy inside and out. The gunwale I think I'll laminate and epoxy in 3 or 4 strips of the cedar as an inwale only, no screws. Never did this gunwale style before but I think it will be stiff enough and save a Lot of weight. Using the coaxial carbon/kevlar sleeves that was mentioned at one time on this forum is a bit beyond me at this time, getting the foam core right and epoxying I'll maybe try another time. I'll put in small strip decks maybe 8" long with carry/tiedown handles and 2 thwarts. The discussion on seat hight has given me some ideas, though I'm considering a sliding seat similar to marathon c-1's but 3 to 4 inches off the bottom. I started out with forms that I had from a Rob Roy 13' that I built several years ago, but I was making so many changes that that idea went by the wayside, it was a start though. This class is really just an extention of the origional pack boats, made longer and therefore faster.
I'll include a few photos of the build so far, I'll continue with this thread if anyone is interested. Like Striperguy I buy shorter strips and splice them together. I splice first though then apply the strip full length, and like him I didn't try to blend colors to much. I don't use bead and cove, just bevel slightly with a thumb plane. I'm not trying to build a work of art, but rather a good functional lightweight stiff canoe. I like this idea well enough that I'm already thinking of building another with improvements after a season of paddling this one. The boat on the forms already looks slightly different than it looked on paper.
Why am I building this boat? We'll I like the process of building my own canoe, and I've enjoyed the design and layout through the winter. The boats always atract attention, real Eye Candy. And, I will end up with a nice boat for $400-$500, , I just can't afford $2000-$3000 for a new boat at this time.

John M. - A Connecticut Yankee
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File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 006.jpg (104.2 KB, 339 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 174.jpg (133.0 KB, 335 views)

Last edited by Connecticut Yankee; 04-28-2010 at 11:35 AM..
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:25 AM   #2
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A few more photos, and sorry about the spelling and grammer, I should proof read.
John M. - A Connecticut Yankee
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File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 169.jpg (53.2 KB, 335 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 273.jpg (54.0 KB, 331 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 275.jpg (97.8 KB, 331 views)
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:57 AM   #3
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John,

That looks great. Keep the details coming. What's the story behind that really nice looking canoe off to the side in the second picture?

I drive by St. Mike's on my way to and from work every day

Scott
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Old 04-28-2010, 07:30 PM   #4
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I am interested in this canoe building. Not to try it myself because I am not Norm Abrams, just a few questions about how things are done if you don't mind me asking. 1. How long does the boat stay on the form after it's done?
2. Is it nailed to the form while under construction?
3. Did I see Elmers glue in one photo?
4. Do you have to use steam at all?
5. Are the strips thicker on the bottom for durability?
6. Do your boats usually sit balanced empty or lean a little?
7. How is it all sealed up watertight?

You are very talented. These boats are head turners for sure! Mike
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Old 04-28-2010, 09:17 PM   #5
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Looks great John!
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:08 PM   #6
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After the strips are all laid up the hull stays on the forms through the sanding process, I use a randon orbital sander, to fair up and smooth out all the strips. Then the outside is glassed. After the outside is glassed and a couple more coats of epoxy to smooth out the finish the hull can be removed from the forms. Then you sand and glass the interior.
The strips are tacked to the forms with small tacks and often stapled to each other while the glue dries. I usually lay up a few strips a day and remove the staples and tacks from the previous day. Some people use stapleless construction, it does give a better look up close, but unless your a builder you won't notice a difference. From 6 feet away you really don't see the small marks. And besides I am building a boat that will see hard use not a show room piece. Others will have varying opinions on this. Like striperguy, I'm after functionality and light weight, the Adirondacks has lots of fine water to paddle but you have to carry to get to the secluded places.
Not Elmers brand but the same type of glue. The glue for the strips does not have to be waterproof, it just holds the boat together until it is fiberglassed/epoxied. The epoxy penetrates into the pores of the wood and completely seald the hull.
No steamings is nessary, the strips are 3/4" by ~7/32" or a bit less. On the guideboat with pretty extreme bends in two opposing planes a hair drier softenes the strips enough. Some builders use steam bent stems , but I use a stemless construction to save weight, and reinforce the stems with extra layers of fiberglass. I've whacked my Merlin pretty good a few times with no ill effects.
The strips are the same throughout the boat, My Merlin which I used 6 oz cloth on has 2 layers of fiberglass cloth on the bottom with 2 additional pieces on the bow and stern where the boat takes most of its abuse. The real strength comes from the glass/wood/glass laminate, getting it's strength from the thickness similar to an I beam. The extra glass on the bottom was for abrasion resistance. I remember a few years ago crossing an esker somewhere in the Adks and having a really steep descent lowering the boat down the slope in front of me, the bottom showed no ill effects at all.
The boats are perfectly ballanced on the water when finished.
Agaim the Fiberglass/epoxy seals the wood perfectly, and when finished looks like a thick coat of varnish.

The boat in the backgroud of the 2'nd photo is a Merlin, 15'9" long, 29" wide, mine weighs aprox 42 lbs, this is the one built with 6 oz cloth and 2 layers on the bottom, ash inwales and outwales screwed on, definately overbuilt. I made the Merlin about 7-8 years ago and it has seen Lots of use, it is usually my go to boat for tripping or just out for an afternoon paddle. My son even takes it out after school on occasion. I'll attach a photo.

John M - A Connecticut Yankee
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Old 04-28-2010, 10:43 PM   #7
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Hey John,
Looks like we're starting a revolution!! You're build looks great...interesting to see the different methods. If I understand your photo sequence, you start parallel to the sheer line and work toward the keel line, alternating the strips along the keel line. It has a nice look to it. These boats do attract attention, I've only paddled strippers since I was 21 years old, so I'm kind of numb to it, but when you meet someone that truly appreciates the blend of function, beauty and value, then you know you've just met the next backyard building convert.
And you talk of a short deck, do you also put in a bulkhead? Another buddy of mine made his stripped decks with tapered strips, had an understated sunburst effect, it was very subtle, yet quite attractive.
I like to do both decks and bulkheads for strength, flotation and to hide that mess that I just can't reach.
So, you too are preaching of the low cost...that's what got me started too. Now, I earn an obscene amount of money, but I refuse to spend it on a commercially built boat. It is extremely gratifying to build and use your own boat.
Do you have a target date for the 1st launching?
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Old 04-28-2010, 11:07 PM   #8
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Thanks for answering all my questions. You guys are like artists. When I bought my OldTown kayak & I was out day-dreaming about some eskimo & wondering if he would be impressed by my modern plastic boat. I guessing not.
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:05 AM   #9
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John,

I love that Merlin. I really wish I had the time, space and equipment to build a canoe. Last fall I thought long and hard about building a stripper this spring but I have so much to do I couldn't see how I could fit it in and still get my work done. I opted for a RapidFire and picked it up on Saturday and took it out for a spin. It is a fantastic work of art, very fast and much more comfortable that what I'm used to. Do I wish I was building a stripper? You bet, but at least I'm out on the water and whose to say I won't be building a stripper in the future

Keep us posted on your progress so at least I can live vicariously

Scott
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Old 04-29-2010, 06:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vermont Scott View Post
John,

I opted for a RapidFire and picked it up on Saturday and took it out for a spin. It is a fantastic work of art, very fast and much more comfortable that what I'm used to.

Scott
Scott

What was your final decision on seating and outfitting on your Rapidfire?

Mike
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Old 04-29-2010, 09:09 PM   #11
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Scott

What was your final decision on seating and outfitting on your Rapidfire?

Mike
Mike,

I don't want to hijack this thread but the low seat tilted too far back and just plain felt wrong, the high seat was angled too far forward and I couldn't get back into the back band, the medium seat was just right

Scott
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:26 AM   #12
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Here are a couple more pictures of the construction.
* The last strip going in.
* Starting the sanding.
*Showing the scarfs for joining the strips.
Now I get to now my random orbital sander, fair out the outside of the hull and get ready to glass the boat.

On another note, my son and I went up and did the Hudson River Derby this weekend, I haden't raced there since 1978. Lots of fun and lots of spectators, My son said it was like people tailgaiting at a College football game with barbicues lots of food and drink etc. It is like a rite of spring for many of the locals to come out and watch the races. It was the first time my son had even seen a slalom gate and we ran a Mad River Explorer but we still did pretty well and had a good time. We did the downriver race on Sunday and did much better, more in out element, 3'rd fastest canoe time overall, Wenonah Sundowner. But the Unique aspect of this race now is the shuttle from Reparious back up to North Creek. For $5 you can catch the sightseeing train back to the start, load your canoe on the flatbead and hop on board. Reminded me of a trip up in Canada many years ago where you put out a red flag and the train stops and picks you up with your canoe and gear. The Upper Hudson River Railroad made for a nice finish to a good day.
John M. A Connecticut Yankee
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Old 05-03-2010, 12:04 PM   #13
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Your boat's looking great. Do you use any kind of stain or just leave it natural color? Was that a dumb question? I'm not sure & I don't care if I sound dumb sometimes. Oh I also like hearing about the $5.00 shuttle on the train. That's a bargain & and an adventure!
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:21 PM   #14
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john,

i've built a stitch and glue, and want to do a real stripper this fall. couple questions for you, and for any builder:

-re your scarfed joints. how long(short) are your strips? i have an issue with getting good red or white cedar this far south, especially 16'+ lengths. could you just use 8 footers in 2', 4', 6', and 8' lengths, staggered, and still get enough strength?

-has anyone ever tried Balsa (1/3"-1/4" or so thick) instead of cedar, with 6-8 oz cloth, and maybe a kevlar keel guard?

-i had a real time of it fiberglassing the inside. how do you keep it from bubbling up? or is that less of a problem with a strip canoe's smoother curves vs my stitch and glue's hard chines?
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:38 PM   #15
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Seeker: If you are going to build a strip built canoe, I have 2 pieces of advice. The process is not as difficult as it may sound, so don't be intimidated, and 2nd, read read read before you start. Two books I read before wetting my feet were Featherweight Boatbuilding by "Mac" McCarthy and Canoecraft by Ted Moores and Merilyn Mohr. If you live in the south, yellow cypress is a good wood for stripping and is much more common down there. One of the reasons red or white cedar is preferred is that its strength to weight ratio is very good. I haven't tried balsa, but have read reports from folks that have. It lightens the boat somewhat but doesn't provide the beauty or pleasing color variations found in cedar. The bubbling up you reported on the inside is caused (I have read) by temperature variations between the air in the wood and the ambient air temps. It can be significantly reduced by putting a coating of epoxy on the wood before you glass it. Just be sure the dried epoxy is smooth after it dries so that the glass doesn't catch on any burrs. Some builders lay down a coat of epoxy before layering on the glass and some don't. You can use shorter strips--I usually cut them at a 45% angle and overlap them at one of the stations. I don't believe it will weaken the integrity of the boat as long as you keep them staggered as much as possible. While CT Yankee doesn't put a cove and bead on his strips, I would recommend it. You would have to invest in a set of router bits for the operation, but it goes pretty fast once you are set up. I'm not criticizing CT Yankee about not using the cove and bead as I have never built one without them, but I think it must help eliminate cracks between the strips in the completed product. On the other hand, much depends upon how you plan on using the canoe/boat. Some of these strip boats are so gorgeous that I'd be afraid to paddle them anywhere other than on flat water. I'm a few weeks away from finishing a strip built Adirondack Guideboat that I hope to sell. Yankee--I like the way you did the decks on your canoe. I have seen that done on the bottom of the hull, but not on the decks--a nice touch in my mind. The seat in your completed Merlin looks high, so I'm curious--do you kneel when you paddle it and use the seat as a rest or do you sit up on the seat? I have a redbird design that I made and I am having to lower the seats as it is way too tippy with a higher seat (which I prefer).

For those that might be interested, one company that deals in strip built boats and supplies is Newfound Woodworks in Bristol, NH (www.newfound.com). I have no attachment with them but have found them very helpful and they have a wealth of experience that they have shared with me when I have asked. They also have books and videos that they can recommend for the aspiring builder. Each fall they usually have a "Woodstrippers Rendezvous" and invite people to bring their canoes and incorporated are some educational demonstrations on the building process. A really educational event whether you have already built one or are thinking about it.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:56 AM   #16
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EagleCrag,

Thanks for the advice. I found a source for short (9' or so) balso, but they can't do longer ones. So i may have to scarf and stagger. As far as beauty, the cedar boats are beautiful, but i'm interested more in a lighter boat. and it's all flat water around here.

thanks again!
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:33 PM   #17
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I've finished sanding the outside of the hull with the Random orbital sander. The sworl marks in the photo are just dust that hasn't been removed. I'll take a tack cloth and clean it off.
although the woodstrip boats are very attractive , I build them to use and I don't baby them, they are much stronger than they appear. I once built one that I used in whitewater slalom racing, back in the late '70's before the dedicated slalom open boats like the Millbrook boats etc. were around.
If it ever warms up around here I'm ready to start the glass/epoxy process.
I'll roll a coat of epoxy on the bare wood to seal it. You can wait up to 24 hours and still put another coat of epoxy on without any additional prep. work. Then I'll put the 4 oz. glass on with reinforcement at the stems. Another day and an additional coat of epoxy to fill the weave of the cloth. Then I wait about a week for the epoxy to really set up before taking it off the molds and turning it over to work in the inside.. I like to do the glass work in the afternoon to evening. That way the temp. drops as the epoxy sets, if the temp. is rising the epoxy can off gass and cause bubbles, small bubbles but noticeable.
The other picture is of the deck of the guideboat I built last year to show you the pattern I used there, the wood is cherry and < 1/4" thick and 2" wide. The lens had a bunch of dust on it, sorry about the blotches. Just took the guideboat down, it is covered in dust from the sanding, it actually looks a lot better than in the picture. I'm heading up to our place in Lake Clear after work Thursday for a few days. I may race the guideboat solo in the Round the Mountain race From the bay on Lower Saranac Lake to Lake Flower. Haven't rowed the boat since last fall though. I may race the sea kayak instead, I've been out paddling that a few times this year.
Using shorter strips and splicing, or scarfing, is just fine strength wise, it is more of an asthetic issue. My scarfs overlap about 6/1.
Several years ago I built a 17' tandem using Sitka Spruce, very light in color, I'd go with Sitka over balsa. I need to find a source for Sitka spruce, I'd like to do another boat with it but also to build a set of oars for the guideboat.
It will be next week before I get the the epoxy/glass work.
The seats in the Merlin, yes I use it as a knealing paddling boat, it is tippy sitting, though my son who is 5'8" and 120 lbs. sits in it OK. I fish out of it sometimes and I like to kneel when casting a fly rod. When I'm strictly out to fish I use an Old Town HW wood canvas canoe paddled from a kneeling thwart. The guideboat is turning into my favorite fishing boat though.
EagleCraig, Striperguy and I all agree that the process is not that difficult, as mentioned read all you can before you start, Newfound Boatworks is indeed a good sourse and they have lots of good info on their site. Bear Mountain Boatworks is also a good source to check out. The Osprey design would be a good first solo striper, avoid the boats with extreme tumblehoam the first time around.
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:40 PM   #18
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Ok, finally a few more pictures of the construction. Been working more lately and had some computer problems as well.
After putting epoxy on the bare wood I laid 2 4oz. pieces of cloth on the bow and stern, starting about 6" up on the stems and back about 3 feet with the first piece and 2 feet with the second piece. The pieces of cloth are cut on the bias so they conform to the bends better and are about 2" wide at the stems and about 4" wide toward the middle of the boat. With these two pieces , the cloth covering the whole boat and another last piece only about 1 1/2" wide and back 1 foot from the stems there is 16 oz of cloth on the high wear areas of the boat. The bow and stern run up on shore, hit rocks etc the most and have no flex as the center of the hull has. I will also but 2 extra layers on the inside. This adds just a few ounces to the boat but adds a lot of durability. I'm building this boat to be very light , but strong enough for serious use.
The photos show laying out the 4 oz cloth on the outer hull, then the wetting out. I start with a roller then go to a squeegie as does striperguy. I try to use the minnimum amount of epoxy and still get full wet-out. The excess glass is trimmed the next day with a knife blade. System - 3 epoxy allows you to put a coat of epoxy on the hull, then 12-24 hours later put an additional layer of epoxy on without sanding, any longer and you must sand again. After the glass is on then I do 2 fill coats of epoxy. I put one coat on in the morning, with the temp rising throught the day I got some bubbles in the epoxy, don't try to brush these out after the epoxy starts to set, just causes all kinds of problems. I put the secont fill coat over this, then let the boat sit for a week, it takes that long for the epoxy to really set up. Remove it from the molds to soon, flip it over and the cradles may mar the epoxy. I was working quite a bit last week so the wait was no problem. I removed the hull today, and scraped the inside, tomorrow I'll try to get all the sanding done, then it is basicly the same procedure for the inside of the boat.. The toughest part on the inside is getting the inside of the stems sanded and scraped smooth. It is the toughest part of the boat to get looking good. Just no room to work up there, with my clumsey mitts.
The last photo is a closeup of the hull with the glass and epoxy before the fill coats showing the weave of the cloth that must be filled for a smooth finish.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 325.jpg (91.7 KB, 157 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 328.jpg (84.4 KB, 157 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 329.jpg (64.6 KB, 157 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 330.jpg (75.4 KB, 159 views)
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:46 PM   #19
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I couldn't download all the pictures at once. Previous pictures, wetting out the bare wood, and adding the glass and wetting that out.
The below photos, the bow wetted out with excess glass overlaping, 3/4 away around, and the closeup of the wood and glass before the fill coats.
the hull will be sanded lightly, to remove any bumps and smooth the hull , then it will be varnished with a marine varnish with a UV block.
John M. A Connecticut Yankee
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File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 331.jpg (79.0 KB, 158 views)
File Type: jpg STRIP BOAT 332.jpg (49.8 KB, 158 views)
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Old 05-27-2010, 07:57 AM   #20
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John,

Looks great so far!! Have you been following my build progress? You were quite a bit ahead of me, I think I've taken the lead lately.
Do you buy from Merton's? I used to use System3 also, I have switched to RAKA, cost was one issue. Also, I found that the System 3 resin has some of the solids precipitate out when stored in a cold location. Easy enough to get the stuff back in solution, but for me, it was a nuisance. I do not keep the resin, or my boat shop, warm enough all year long.
I also have 4 layers of glass in the high abrasion areas, but I put the bias cut stem strips on the outside. I notice you have the full layer extended beyond the stem, to trim off and blend later?
And one more question...Do you use make up strips, or cheater strips? My buddy is in the middle of another Wee Lassie II build, and he is having a tough time with the strips bending too much in the off axis. I think I can see those wedge shaped strips in your construction, but the grain can fool my eye sometimes.
Anyway, I enjoy seeing your progress and methods...keep posting.

Mike T.
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